FARMERS in South Warwickshire are being urged to take steps to avoid farms fires as Britain experiences the driest summer in 50 years.
Stratford-based insurer NFU MUtual is calling on farmers to take maximum precautions against fire following the second heatwave of the year, which has left behind extremely dry conditions. Many areas of the country have now moved into official “drought” status, including part of central England
The insurer has revealed that last year farm fires cost £97million, with agricultural machinery fires alone exceeding £37million. This is an increase on the previous year.
And this year, warns NFU Mutual, the risk of fires on farms could be even greater – risking lives, damaging valuable crops and machinery and disrupting vital harvest.
NFU Mutual, which insures three-quarters of all UK farms, says fires on farms typically peak in the months of July and August, when harvest is well underway and the weather is generally hotter and drier. Last year, this period saw almost 500 of such fire claims at a rate of over eight each day.
Evita van Gestel of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd said: “We know that long periods of hot, dry weather, like that predicted for the coming weeks, increase the risk of dangerous and destructive fires on our farms.
“Dusty, tinder dry conditions combined with hot moving parts, lots of electrical wiring and a tank full of diesel provide everything that is needed to turn a spark into a violent fire.
“Not only can this result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of agricultural machinery, but it can also damage or destroy nearby crops and buildings and disrupt harvest at a time when farmers can least afford it.
“Most importantly, the current conditions mean a fire can quickly become a raging blaze which endangers lives.
“That is why we’re urging farmers to use our fire prevention checklist and to maintain regular cleaning and maintenance of machinery to avoid destructive fires. NFU Mutual also offers premium discounts to farmers who fit approved fire suppression systems to their combines, which can stop a fire in its tracks.”
NFU Mutual’s fire safety checklist includes:
– Have a plan in place in the event of fire including a system for keeping in contact with lone workers
– Identify hazards, such as fuel and fertiliser stores or dry straw and grain, and take steps to isolate these where possible
– Keep a bowser filled with water on hand
– Be prepared to create a fire break in the event of a crop fire
– Ensure planned preventative maintenance is up-to-date